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    Nottinghamshire is hoping for rain due to Nathan Smith's all-round impact
Nottinghamshire is hoping for rain due to Nathan Smith's all-round impact
Nathan Smith produced a devastating late burst to lift Worcestershire's challenge. Source: Getty Images

Nottinghamshire is hoping for rain due to Nathan Smith's all-round impact

Nathan Smith, the new signing from New Zealand for Worcestershire, scored 58 runs. His team, who were six wickets down overnight, added 135 runs from the lower order, bringing their total to 355. Smith then took four wickets in seven balls. Nottinghamshire, who were batting again, were left shell-shocked at the close with a score of 151 for 7, giving them a lead of 195.

In a season where leg-spin has been prominent, Calvin Harrison, another leg-spinner, completed his first five-wicket haul for the home team earlier on the third day of this Vitality County Championship match. Smith's exciting display of pace in the evening session raised concerns of a second batting collapse for the home team at Trent Bridge in just seven days.

Ben Duckett scored 63 runs from 87 balls before being dismissed an hour before the close of play. He was the first of three consecutive wickets taken by the bowler, with Smith adding a fourth by removing Jack Haynes' off stump. The collapse saw six wickets fall for just 19 runs in 51 balls after the team had been at 125 for one. Ben Slater was caught by a reflex short-leg catch off Josh Baker, and Harrison was bowled by Adam Finch without offering a shot.

With heavy rain expected on Monday morning, Nottinghamshire needed to make quick progress. They scored 57 runs in just 12 overs before and after tea, during an opening stand of 81. The question now is whether they will be bowled out before they can set a target.

The visitors continued their seventh-wicket partnership overnight and added 50 runs before Liam Patterson-White, a slow left-armer who had only taken one wicket in five games during the difficult 2023 campaign, finally gained his first success of the year by dismissing Brett D'Oliveira leg-before for 54.

​​However, Smith, who is a capable No. 8 and has previously scored a century and averaged 27 in New Zealand, continued batting after reaching his fifty from 103 balls. Baker was deceived by the flight of the ball and gave Harrison his fourth wicket via a third return catch. After Joe Leach, who is also a competent batsman, survived a run-out chance on one, the team went to lunch with the score at 331 for eight.

Harrison was briefly suspended after bowling 36 consecutive overs before tea on Saturday without a single maiden. Dillon Pennington, with the new ball, finally caught Smith with a hook to the deep. Harrison's return led to the dismissal of the last man, leaving Leach unbeaten with 48.

Harrison's figures of 36.3-2-128-5 were reminiscent of wrist-spinners from another era. Meanwhile, down in Chelmsford, fellow leggie Matt Critchley took his first five-wicket haul since joining Essex in 2022. Cameron Steel also claimed a maiden five-for for Surrey in the opening round last week. The Kookaburra ball has given leg-spinners a chance to shine.

However, it was unable to stop Smith, who charged in from the Stuart Broad End in the late sunshine after Haseeb Hameed skied a catch to point for 40 off Baker's left-arm spin. In his eighth over, Smith had Duckett caught at square leg, flicking a ball off his hip, saw Joe Clarke superbly caught by the diving keeper, then dismissed Matt Montgomery, who also scored a duck, leg-before.

With figures of 11-4-29-4, he finished the close. This suggests that Nottinghamshire may be more hopeful than the other team for rain on the final day.

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